This weekend I traveled down to Murfresboro Tennessee to a local bar called Handlebars to see Mr. Josh Morningstar and Mr. Billy Don Burns play sets tonight, as they kick off their tour together of several stops across the United States. I haven’t caught up with either of these rascals lately, so maybe we will hear some new songs from them as well as old classics.
Both of these artists have achieved many accolades on this website through the five years I have been operating, and trust you me, I fully plan to continue my coverage of their music. I’m about to try some of the food here, and get settled into my work area to write. As I continued to write and eat I’ll tell you what, the menu was large and the food was GREAT. Handlebars is a 24 hour bar in Rutherford County that serves some wonderful breakfast, however they also have a “brown bag” rule. Meaning you can bring in your own liquor, and I think that was part of the problem of later on in the evening. The patrons were BEYOND inebriated and unruly and (I’ll mention this several times)….THEY WERE….BARKING AT ME….next time I will bring Milk Bones treats.
Handlebars is the oldest established biker bar in the city of Murfresboro that has a spacious outdoor area and an outdoor stage however tonight they had the guys perform inside. This bar DOES allow smoking,so if that’s a problem for you this may not be your place to see live music as you WILL get smoke blown in your face as you eat. I’ll be honest with you, it didn’t bother me as much as it would some however there were indeed s few things that did bother me.
The bar itself is laid out good and has a nice stage area, however I would not come back for another band or songwriter even if the drive wasn’t really too bad. If the show is truly good, and the stage is nice by God you know I’ll drive it up or down any state. But this establishment has patrons that are so unruly and savage that it just kills the positives of this evening…I mean THEY WERE BARKING AT ME…ALL NIGHT they sat there and barked LOUDLY. I do NOT expect a bar to be library but come on people, for crying out loud drink your beer and listen to the songs!
This will be an acoustic set from the both of them with Mr. Josh being up first for a set, however with the outside area and bar games in full swing the music area is a little off on it’s own. But when it gets full it can get incredibly loud beyond what I’m accustomed to, and I had to write down my food order because the bartender couldn’t hear me yell my order out. Did I mention the patrons BARK LOUDLY ALL NIGHT, THEY DO not communicate like people they YELL ALL NIGHT….
Mr. Josh Morningstar opened with a pretty cool intro to set the mood before going into the title song from his latest album called “Whole Lotta Crazy”. He included covers on this set tonight, as he went into “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and then continued to play more from his latest album like ‘Damn These Birds”.
Mr. Josh shows his true reverence for Traditional Country Music in every set he plays, as he included Hank Williams Sr. “Your Cheat’n Heart”…and he introduced Mr. Billy Don Burns, who opened with ‘That’s Alright”. Mr. Billy was ON POINT all night, and told us he has been feeling the best he has in quite some time. He also included “Rock On”, and “Lonesome 77203” . He pretty much played selections from all four albums and many of his older hits that were cuts.
Tonight Mr. Billy played his most poignant song he has, called ‘Dark Side of The Spoon” which haunts me to this day, being a recovered addict myself of many years. I swear I hate those lyrics but at the same time I love them so much, and as he bellows out the lyrics to “Hank Williams Lonesome And Keith Whitley Blue” , he raised the roof off this place…..despite their barking. In case you missed that….THEY WERE BARKING…LIKE WOOF WOOF BARKING. Grown men….barking.
He played the song that Cody Jinks cut on his last album called “Gaylor Creek Church” and followed that up with ‘Desperate Men”. The sound in this little stage area was really good, and I could hear really well. Now I’ll tell you a little tidbit of news here, Mr. Billy Don played a new song called “The Stranger Is Getting Stranger”. Now, this album is going to be on the new Cody Jinks album called ‘Lifers” , and it will be out in June.
Mr. Josh then continued his portion of the set with his song that will also be on the Cody Jinks album called ‘Must Be The Whiskey”. So make sure you run out and grab that album when it drops! Billy Don Burns got to play the song Johnny Paycheck cut called ‘outlaws At The Cross”, and beforehand told us all a story of Paycheck and Mr. Pat Robertson. Despite the utter chaos that later on ensued in the bar area I still heard some great stories.
“Dead Or Alive” was written at the grave of Billy The Kid and I did indeed get to hear him perform this one at many shows. Also, he did the song that Willie Nelson cut called “don’t Have A Reason To Go To California Anymore”. Now, on the next set he sang ‘Talk About Crazy”, and one of the songs on “Night In Room 8” Which was number one album of 2016 and from that album he also played”I Was Playing Hank”. Because that album was recorded in the same hotel room that Mr. Gram Parsons died in he played that song, as Mr. Gram died he was at Opryland playing Hank Williams for a job.
Mr. Josh began a second set here tonight with his song “Somewhere Soft To Fall”, and included “Hey Good Lookin” as he always fills his sets up with terrific covers the crowd enjoys! The level of songwriting we are witnessing here tonight is amazing, as he once again plays a Roger Miller song called ‘Dang Me”.
Mr. Billy’s latest album on Rusty Knuckles called Graveyard In Montgomery” boasted his next song here called ‘Graveyard In Montgomery”. As well as “Running Drugs Out Of Mexico”, and “Outskirts Of Desperate” before he got a request to play ‘Wild Dogs”. He and Mr. Josh played “Honky Tonk Singer On The Highway Of Life”, as they took turns on the verses and told us the story on how they met.
Mr. Josh is now playing ‘The Day Merle Haggard Died Today” while Mr. Billy returned back with what he said was Shooter’s favorite song called ‘Is He The Writer”, and also played “Born To Ride” and ‘When Lonesome Comes Around”. He told us the story of the time he first heard Mr. Whitey Morgan sing his version of “Memories Cost A Lot” in a cab in Germany. The endless amount of stories you hear during a Billy Don Burns show is beyond amazing in every sense of the word,and I do not think anybody would digress here tonight.
From his “Night In Room 8” album he played “Where Was Love” and Mr. Josh played one off his “Songs For Fools With Broken Hearts” called “Motel Madness” and closed his set with “All That I Been Living For is Gone”. Mr. Billy closed with a few more songs like “Trying To get To Memphis”, and as he appreciated our admiration for him he played one of my favorites called “I Was there”…because he WAS. Mr. Billy lived and breathed in an era many of us only read about in books. He WAS instrumental in ushering in the Outlaw Movement and assisted in the proliferation of it’s tenure in American History.
Did I mention the bar patrons were BARKING at me?